The Wicker Man
The Wicker Man was directed by Robin Hardy in 1973. An alternative thriller, It is terrifying in its quintessential britishness. Based upon and forever changing our opinions of small British Villages – Try watching this and driving through one without a slight shiver down your spine. The fear factor of the film comes from the unforgivingness of the characters; their refusal to accept their way of life is anything from the norm. They are brainwashed in a Paganistic society, and as the film goes on, you start to be to.
Music plays a big part in the film. Although bizarre, the scenery, characters and props are realistic, juxtaposed with the intensely joyous musical-esque soundtrack. The music manages to brainwash you into an intense forced happiness, much like the villagers themselves in the film. You are not sure whether or not you are supposed to be enjoying the experience. The music itself is based on old Celtic music, the musical director said, “We were interested in this semi-mystical occult shit and played music that touched on real traditions – Celtic music, Irish folk.” (Carpenter, 2013). Even the light-hearted manner in which Carpenter talks about the music shows the lax attitude towards it. It seems like it does not want to be taken seriously, with the director being the first to admit they all decided to smoke dope to help the musical process. This satirical view towards these ‘ancient Celtic and Pagan traditions” sums up the film pretty well.
The feelings you experience towards the music begin to seep into your opinions of the whole film. The audience themselves begin to live in this “ignorance is bliss” mind set. The calming and seemingly good willed nature of the villagers starts to make you question your moral opinions towards sacrifice, and other questionable practices depicted in the film.
Throughout this moral journey, one scene from early on in the film ruminates. The townsfolk and dancing and singing merrily in their local bar. As the music escalated, the camera angles become more and more grotesque, and the characters are viewed in a more raw and vulgar manner (fig 1).
|(Fig 1) Dancing in the Bar|
The film ends unapologetically with the sacrifice the villagers were aware of the entire way through the film. There is something sinister in the contrast between the content swaying townsfolk, and the police officer crying out for mercy from the lord. Taking out of context the normality of the religion he is promoting, His screaming and shouting to a lord above and the rant previous to it, seems just as crazy as that of the deluded townsfolk (fig 2). He is the one who has been tricked here, so convinced he could exploit their way of life, when all along he was part of their sinister plan. “The Wicker Man is a film based on irony: Sergeant Howie may be the fool, but far from underestimating him and treating him as such, the islanders rely on him to work out Rowan's fate in order to seal his own.” (Macintyre, 2013). It begs the question, which is really the mad one here.
|(Fig 2) Delirious Sergeant Howie|
(fig 1) Still from The Wicker Man (1973) at http://www.ellangowan.co.uk/the_wicker_man.htm
(fig 2) Still from The Wicker Man (1973) at http://www.offscreen.com/index.php/pages/essays/russell_tribble/
Carpenter. G (2013), How we made the Wicker Man for The Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/sep/24/how-we-made-wicker-man
Macintyre. E (2013), The Wicker Man Review at http://www.elainemacintyre.net/film_reviews/wicker_man.php